Does this look familiar? Click on the comment link in any posting and leave us some feedback- we'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Building Trust...Again and Again

I haven't told anyone except my close circle of friends, but so that you can grasp the issues we're talking about here, I will (without using names) give you an idea why building trust can be so hard. We got a call about three weeks ago that the biological mother of our oldest 4 had died. She had been stabbed in the head by her live-in boyfriend in a fight over drugs. The person who called was a friend of hers, but not someone I know at all, so I looked the story up online and found all kinds of links to it (it hit even big news sources). They only said she had been flown to a hospital and was in ICU, but they were older articles, and unless they did a follow-up, I had no more info. To make matters worse, the friend asked if I knew where her mother was currently living because until they found a family member, no info (or body) could be released.

We felt it important to let the kids have some tangible evidence of her death if at all possible because of other times when they were left hanging. Many of the people connected to their past have a tendency to blurt things out in front of them. Three years ago we ran into a cousin who said "Did you hear ______(biological father) is dead? Got himself shot. Always knew it would be something like that". We hadn't heard anything at all about or from him since the visitation stopped, so it was a complete out-of-nowhere announcement. The kids were very upset. We tried to verify the story but never could find out if it did happen, and every once in a while they ask if we've heard anything back. It has left a giant question in their minds that has to be answered. We knew telling them of their mother's demise without some kind of proof would just deepen the lost feeling, but because of those people blurting things out in front of them, we decided we better tell them anyway.

It was tough to say the least, trying to be honest without scaring them, and letting them know what happened without too many details. They all cried, though the youngest two readily admitted they didn't remember anything about her or even what she looked like. It was a stressful situation which got ever more stressful when I started to try and find a death notices or funeral arrangements in order to give them the closure I was looking for...and couldn't find anything. I started following what little info I had and finally got a hold of patient information at a hospital where I was told she was still listed in serious condition. STILL? I was shocked to hear she was there at all because we had been told she was dead! Even weirder was when I called back two days later and was told she had been discharged! Turns out she was moved to a nursing home, but even that took a week to find out. So we had to tell the kids that, no, she wasn't in fact dead. Talk about creating a problem! These kids have enough trouble trusting us, which is why I have promised them that I will never lie to them about anything. But to look at this from their perspective, we did lie. They probably thought I made it up just to be mean or to try and get them to forget her. I mean, what are the chances of adults just being mistaken over something like THIS?

And as with every issue, it spills over into everyday life. One of the kids will have a spider on their pant leg and I'll say "Wait, you have a bug on you". But even after I remove it, they have to check themselves to make sure I really did remove it- even to taking the pants off to check. Or if I say "I didn't put the bowls away yet", they still go to the cupboard first, and then say "I was just checking". Now imagine the trust issues after you've been told your mother died only to find out it wasn't true. Sadly, all we can do is continue to be honest Abe with them, always proving that I meant what I said about not lying. And every situation will have to be weighed, because while there is the chance of us giving them wrong info based on what others say, I think the impact of hearing it from a stranger in public is even worse.


laurie said...

In my own life, which has been NOTHING compared to the trauma they have endured rebuilding trust after it has been destroyed is the most difficult thing to do. It is one step forward and 2 steps back. Keep perserving.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I can't imagine what a difficult situation that would be. It is good that you can recognize where the trust issues are coming from. Trying not to take it personally would be really hard, I would think. God's grace to you and them!